Because I live and breath computing and the Internet, I often forget what the casual users experience. So sometimes I watch one at random over his shoulder just to keep abreast of what the Myspace generation and the typewriter generation are doing. And every time my battle-hardened sysadmin heart still shudders at the sights.
These days, my favorite casual user habit is searching for an obvious URL using a search engine. For example I have seen “yahoo mail” typed as an argument in the Google search form – no once, but several times and by different users ! I would have thought that http://mail.yahoo.com/ or http://www.yahoo.com/mail/ or http://yahoo.com/mail or whatever other variations that have been setup by Yahoo provide enough obvious ways to reach the service. But apparently they don’t.
If even the most obvious of all are not typed, we can infer that today’s casual user does not memorize any URL anymore. Maybe the clean URL that we strive to produce are intended for the sole consumption of search engines and power users. And that’s one more reason why portals are so important.